Dad always used to say the only causes worth fighting for were the lost causes.
I've been over every single foot of it. You could have no idea. You just have to see it for yourself. I don't know. The prairies and wind leaning on the tall grass and lazy streams down in the meadows, angry little midgets of water up in the mountains, cattle moving down the slope against the sun. Campfires and snowdrifts. You know, everybody ought to have some of that sometime in his life. My dad had the right idea. And it all worked out. He used to say to me: 'Son, don't miss the wonders that surround you because every tree, every rock, every anthill, every star is filled with the wonders of nature.' And he used to say to me: 'Have you ever noticed how grateful you are to see daylight again after coming through a long dark tunnel?' 'Well,' he'd say, 'Always try to see life around ya as if you'd just come out of a tunnel.'
You sure had the right idea about me, Saunders. You told me to go back home, keep fillin' those kids full of hooey. Yeah. Just a simple guy you said was still wet behind the ears. A lot of junk about American ideals. Yeah, that's certainly a lot of junk, all right...I don't know. This is a whole new world to me. What are you gonna believe in? And a man like Paine, Senator Joseph Paine gets up and swears that I've been robbin' kids of nickels and dimes - a man I've admired and worshipped all my life. I don't know. There are a lot of fancy words around this town. Some of them are carved in stone. Some of 'em, I guess the Taylors and Paines have put 'em up there so suckers like me can read 'em. Then when you find out what men actually do - Well, I'm gettin' out of this town so fast and away from all the words and the monuments and the whole rotten show.
The people of my state need permanent relief from crooked men riding their backs.
Now, you're not gonna have a country that can make these kind of rules work, if you haven't got men that have learned to tell human rights from a punch in the nose. [The Senate applauds] It's a funny thing about men, you know. They all start life being boys. I wouldn't be a bit suprised if some of these Senators were boys once. And that's why it seemed like a pretty good idea for me to get boys out of crowded cities and stuffy basements for a couple of months out of the year. And build their bodies and minds for a man-sized job, because those boys are gonna be behind these desks some of these days. And it seemed like a pretty good idea, getting boys from all over the country, boys of all nationalities and ways of living. Getting them together. Let them find out what makes different people tick the way they do. Because I wouldn't give you two cents for all your fancy rules if, behind them, they didn't have a little bit of plain, ordinary, everyday kindness and a - a little lookin' out for the other fella, too...That's pretty important, all that. It's just the blood and bone and sinew of this democracy that some great men handed down to the human race, that's all. But of course, if you've got to build a dam where that boys camp ought to be, to get some graft to pay off some political army or something, well that's a different thing. Oh no! If you think I'm going back there and tell those boys in my state and say: 'Look. Now fellas. Forget about it. Forget all this stuff I've been tellin' you about this land you live in is a lot of hooey. This isn't your country. It belongs to a lot of James Taylors.' Oh no! Not me! And anybody here that thinks I'm gonna do that, they've got another thing comin'. (He whistles loudly with his fingers in his mouth, startling Senators who are dozing or reading other materials) That's all right. I just wanted to find out if you still had faces. I'm sorry gentlemen. I-I know I'm being disrespectful to this honorable body, I know that. I- A guy like me should never be allowed to get in here in the first place. I know that! And I hate to stand here and try your patience like this, but EITHER I'M DEAD RIGHT OR I'M CRAZY.
Just get up off the ground, that's all I ask. Get up there with that lady that's up on top of this Capitol dome, that lady that stands for liberty. Take a look at this country through her eyes if you really want to see something. And you won't just see scenery; you'll see the whole parade of what Man's carved out for himself, after centuries of fighting. Fighting for something better than just jungle law, fighting so's he can stand on his own two feet, free and decent, like he was created, no matter what his race, color, or creed. That's what you'd see. There's no place out there for graft, or greed, or lies, or compromise with human liberties. And, uh, if that's what the grownups have done with this world that was given to them, then we'd better get those boys' camps started fast and see what the kids can do. And it's not too late, because this country is bigger than the Taylors, or you, or me, or anything else. Great principles don't get lost once they come to light. They're right here; you just have to see them again!
I guess this is just another lost cause, Mr. Paine. All you people don't know about the lost causes. Mr. Paine does. He said once they were the only causes worth fighting for. And he fought for them once, for the only reason that any man ever fights for them. Because of just one plain simple rule: 'Love thy neighbor.' And in this world today, full of hatred, a man who knows that one rule has a great trust. You know that rule, Mr. Paine. And I loved you for it, just as my father did. And you know that you fight for the lost causes harder than for any others. Yes, you even die for them. Like a man we both knew, Mr. Paine.
I wouldn't give you two cents for all your fancy rules if, behind them, they didn't have a little bit of plain, ordinary, everyday kindness and a little looking out for the other fella, too.
You think I'm licked. You all think I'm licked. Well, I'm not licked. And I'm going to stay right here and fight for this lost cause. Even if the room gets filled with lies like these, and the Taylors and all their armies come marching into this place.
Boy I feel like a house on fire.
Don Quixote with bill will get to his feet in a minute and speak two important words. Willet Creek. When that happens, the Silver Knight will fall off his tightrope and Puss will jump out of his boots.
I wonder Diz, if this Don Quixote hasn't got the jump on all of us. I wonder if it isn't a curse to go through life wised up like you and me.
Why don't you go home?...This is no place for you - you're half-way decent. You don't belong here. Now go home.
I was hoping you'd be spared all this. I was hoping that you'd see the sights, absorb a lot of history, and go back to your boys. Now you've been living in a boy's world, Jeff, and for heaven's sakes, stay there! This is a man's world. It's a brutal world Jeff, and you've no place in it. You'll only get hurt. Now take my advice. Forget Taylor and what he said. Forget you ever heard of the Willet Creek Dam...I know it's tough to run head-on into facts but, well as I said, this is a man's world Jeff, and you've got to check your ideals outside the door, like you do your rubbers. Thirty years ago I had your ideals. I was you. I had to make the same decision you were asked to make today. And I made it. I compromised - yes! So that all those years, I could sit in that Senate and serve the people in a thousand honest ways. You've got to face facts, Jeff. I've served our state well, haven't I? We have the lowest unemployment and the highest federal grants. But, well, I've had to compromise. I've had to play ball. You can't count on people voting. Half the time they don't vote anyway. That's how states and empires have been built since time began. Don't you understand? Well Jeff, you can take my word for it. That's how things are. Now I've told you all this because, well I've grown very fond of you. About like a son, in fact. And I don't want to see you get hurt.
I hit him from the floor with everything I knew...I haven't got the stomach for this anymore.
Mr. President. I have risen to a difficult task to say that out of evidence that has come to my attention, I consider Senator Smith unworthy to address this body...Senators, I have conclusive evidence to prove that my colleague owns the very land described in his bill. He bought it the day following his appointment to the Senate. And he's holding it, using this body and his privileged office for his own personal profit! Accordingly, I offer a resolution for an immediate inquiry by the Committee of Privileges and Elections as to the fitness of my colleague to continue to sit in this chamber.
Gentlemen, I have lost all patience with this brazen character. I apologize to this body for his appointment. I regret I ever knew him. I'm sick and tired of this contemptible young man and I refuse to stay here and listen to him any longer. I hope every member of this body feels as I do.
I'm not fit to be a Senator. I'm not fit to live. Expel me! Expel me! Not him. Every word that boy said is the truth! Every word about Taylor and me and graft and the rotten political corruption of our state. Every word of it is true. I'm not fit for office! I'm not fit for any place of honor or trust. Expel me!
I want you to let the ballyhoo boys loose, plan a celebration, and declare a holiday.
Well what do you want me to do? Stand around like you chumps and let that drooling infant wrap that Willet Creek Dam appropriation around my neck! Not me, ha, ha, ha. Either he falls in line with us and behaves himself or I'll break him so wide open they'll never be able to find the pieces.
Our steam-roller methods are getting too hard for your sensitive soul. Is that it? The Silver Knight is getting too big for us. My methods have been all right for the past twenty years, Joe. Since I picked you out of a fly-specked hole in the wall and blew you up to look like a Senator. And now you can't stand it.
If he even starts to convince those Senators, you might as well blow your brains out, you know that, don't ya? This is the works, Joe! Either we're out of business or we're bigger than we ever were before. We can't miss a trick. We can't stop at anything until we've smashed this yokel and buried him so deep...
I didn't like this boy from the beginning. But most of us feel that no man who wasn't sincere could stage a fight like this against these impossible odds.
Half of official Washington is here to see democracy's finest show, the filibuster, the right to talk your head off, the American privilege of free speech in its most dramatic form. The least man in that chamber, once he gets and holds that floor by the rules, can hold it and talk as long as he can stand on his feet providing always, first, that he does not sit down, second, that he does not leave the chamber or stop talking. The galleries are packed. In the diplomatic gallery are the envoys of two dictator powers. They have come here to see what they can't see at home. DEMOCRACY IN ACTION.
...It is the most unusual and spectacular thing in the Senate annals. One lone and simple American holding the greatest floor in the land. What he lacked in experience, he's made up in fight. But those tired Boy Ranger legs are buckling, bleary-eyed, voice gone, he can't go on much longer. And all official Washington is here to be in on the kill.